In the era in which these brave soldiers fought, the prospect of our free-future and wellbeing lay in their hands. Now, the future of their legacy lies in ours.
~~This November 11th, make remembrance count~~
Victory Journey is an educational documentary determined to reinvigorate a movement ensuring WWII Allied Veterans in North-West Europe are never forgotten. The film, which was born out of a promise film maker Kim Taylor-Galway made to her Grandfather (WWII Author and Captain George G. Blackburn) on his death bed, aims to educate and inspire young people throughout North America to remain vigilant about our debt of gratitude to WWII service men and women who served as Allies securing our freedom.
Taylor-Galway will complete a tribute bike ride retracing her Grandfather's 1,000-mile deployment route as a Canadian soldier, as documented in his well-known trilogy of books (The Guns of Normandy, The Guns of Victory and Where the Hell Are the Guns?) for which he was awarded an Order of Canada and French Legion of Honor. Victory Journey also encapsulates the emotional recollections of more than a dozen people who either survived Nazi Occupation and witnessed Allied victory; or whose homes and towns continue to bear the scars of war and those whose lives are now dedicated to ensuring the beloved memorialization of Allied liberators, including the often neglected Canadian forces.
WHY TELL THIS STORY:
We must never forget the sacrifices made by Allied soldiers in WWII - a triumph we continue to benefit from today. As time wears on, however, a society that has either forgotten or no longer cares, becomes an increasingly real possibility.
Young men and women still weary from the hardship of The Great Depression, made extraordinary sacrifices by willingly setting aside their own well-being - and life itself in massive numbers - to conquer the tyrannical clench of the Nazi grip on North-West Europe.
The savagery endured by those that served in this historic war is unimaginable.
"Conditions under which the troops had to exist were horrific. There was near-constant terror of being hit by incoming shells, prolonged lack of sleep; boredom; weakness from dysentery; sudden and gruesome death of close friends; and severe physical deprivation and mental anguish. And in the face of all this, men were called upon to perform heroic acts of bravery, and they did."
~Captain George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy~
After years of planning for production in Europe this past winter, Victory Journey was halted part way through by a life-threatening invisible enemy that would become the global pandemic of its century.
With footage partly collected, and the Victory Journey bike tribute only 20% finished, Victory Journey filming had to be quickly postponed while crew members returned home to join the rest of the world in quarantine, social distancing and patiently waiting for what happens next.
Undefeated by circumstances, the Victory Journey crew continues to plan to return to Europe to finish what the crushing blow of COVID abruptly halted mid-stream. This includes the retracing of Kim’s Grandfather's 1,000 mile deployment route by bike, with her own signed copies of his books in tow to place and photograph them in key locations relevant to her Grandfather's own war journey, as well as the documenting of heartfelt interviews that compel the audience to support initiatives that serve to honor our beloved WWII veterans and their memories.
We speak to WWII survivors, leaders in villages and towns that still bear the scars of WWII but whose culture of remembrance is intrinsic to their communities and to people whose lives are dedicated to ensuring the sacrifices of Allied liberators are properly honored and, above all else, never forgotten.
The people interviewed are a part of history itself as well as the lessons learned from it, and located throughout NW Europe, from Juno Beach to various Normandy battle sites in Louvigny, Foret de la Londe, Dieppe to the west shores of Belgium and the Scheldt's Walcharen Island, NL, to Holten NL, Groesbeek and even the German Rhineland where portions of the Siegfried Line still exist.
A Canadian who has spent decades working with voiceovers, television and radio broadcasting at various levels, the culture of Kim’s upbringing was one of sensitivity to her Grandfather’s (and of all veterans') WWII service. Something he would share frequently with his family, not to self-aggrandize, but as a part of a legacy of vigilance which he felt compelled to hand down to his progeny, WWII history was sacred ground which he hoped generations that followed would feel informed and inspired to also help preserve.
Stricken by a life changing vertigo condition which began in 2015, Kim’s life changed drastically in her recovery process to the extent she began to believe Victory Journey might never happen.
After many long months that included a move to Florida and the pursuit of a degree in Digital Cinema to update her skills, Kim met co-executive producer David Taylor whose confidence in the project and also in her ability to continue to build back her physical strength, inspired her to push through fear and limitations and grab hold of her passion to make Victory Journey a reality.
Kim is the recipient of awards from The Sarasota Film Festival and Suncoast Festival as well as numerous scholarships, including two from the Sarasota Film Society’s Barbara Caras Memorial Scholarship for Film Students.
Executive Producer/Producer/Director/Cinematographer/Sound Technician
Dave is a Vietnam Veteran who is passionate about veteran issues. Wounded in a firefight in Cambodia in 1970, he would spend 4 years recovering and learning to walk again. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Army Accommodation medal, though he also lived, first-hand, through an era that was both unappreciative of the service of Vietnam Vets (many of them drafted by their government) as well as downright hostile to them.
When the wounds of war left him unable to pursue several life goals at the time, he became passionate about photography, but only in retirement from decades working for the United States Postal System would he finally indulge himself in the serious pursuit of film.
Dave’s photos have been published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, and one of his prize photos was published as part of the “Endangered Species Stamp” series, issued from the Naples Zoo in Naples Florida. He has also won several distinguished awards for his work.
As past commander for Sarasota’s (DAV) Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 97, from 2016 to 2017, he has logged thousands of volunteer hours helping veterans of all kinds.
Dave is currently the Director of Vets in Focus, a film and photography business established by Florida Veterans for Common Sense to educate veterans about this possible career choice and fascinating art form which brings joy to both the artist and their audience.
Eric is a brilliant and promising 27-year-old filmmaker from Victoria, BC and grandson of a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran. His short films have played around North America including the Montreal World Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival and Route 66 Film Festival.
In 2017 he was nominated for a Leo Award, BC’s film and television awards, for best student film.
Since 2018, Eric has been working on a project titled, "Last Ones Standing," which will feature 415 Second World War veterans sharing their wartime experiences on camera.
More of his work can be seen at ericbruntmedia.com.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP:
As you might imagine, COVID obliterated production mid-stream. After months of planning, fundraising and promotion, we found ourselves almost instantly adrift in a global pandemic which affected everyone and everything everywhere.
Like many, we are now faced with picking up the pieces of broken plans, sorting out travel credits which benefit the project from expenses that cannot be recovered and events for which there was no possible insurance.
We have already invested much of our own personal money and countless hours (weeks/months) in this project and also vow to make those who have supported us to date proud of the victory we intend to make ours: to finish this worthwhile tribute documentary honoring beloved WWII Allied soldiers.
With a portion of this documentary already shot, including some incredible interviews already “in the can,” we feel more compelled than ever to return to finish our interviews and for Kim to complete the 800 miles that remain of her 1,000 mile bike tribute to retrace her Grandfather’s war deployment route.
We need your support for the following elements of production in Europe (when able to return) which is expected to last another 7 weeks:
-Crew survival (3 of us) through the production phase (B&B’s food)
-Van rental (for travel through NW Europe and to transport various lights,
cameras, sound and editing equipment)
-Fuel for van travel
-Additional transportation costs which the current partial flight credit that
exists won’t cover.
The benefit of being part of the way through our project means we already have many costly components ready for our return, things like all our camera and sound equipment and as well as other equipment needed; the work-horse quality bike Kim needs and its related emergency equipment like back-up bike tires.
We are part way there! Please help us continue what we have started!
WHO HAS HELPED US SO FAR:
There have been countless individuals in North America and Europe, whose support on various levels has made a tremendous difference to us.
Florida Veterans for Common Sense, without whose support and vested interest in this project would have made our progress to date much more difficult. This incredible organization is advocacy group for veterans in America, giving voice and momentum to the various challenges many face, often alone.
Our generous bike sponsors Erez Ekstein and Daniel Shulman of BagiBike Electric Bikes in Miami, Florida who believed in our project so deeply from the start, they ordered Kim’s bike the very day we first met with them.
Congressman Vern Buchanan, who was not only a generous donor and supporter of our project, but whose office became an invaluable advocate for helping us through a dramatic return to the United States when COVID unforeseeably complicated border crossings and returning home was looking grim.
The Hague Film Commission, whose donation and amazing months-long assistance with research made a tremendous difference to our mission. Special heartfelt thanks also to Ing Lim, who has been a steadfast supporter in both pre and post-production.
Diane Condon-Boutier, who is an American Ex-Pat now living in Normandy. Her tireless and passionate assistance with research, language translation and interview arrangements throughout various historic French landmarks, especially as COVID forced scheduling upheaval, demonstrated first-hand how here infinite kindness and passion for WWII remembrance makes her among Normandy’s most eminent WWII tour guides (Fat Thelma Tours, Normandy, France).
Leyla Yanbeyi, who came to our project as the Dutch cousin of a treasured friend, proceeded to volunteer countless hours in The Netherlands to helping us with research, language translation, interview arrangements and on-the-spot food supplies as we travelled during increasing COVID related restrictions.
Tijn Heerkens at locatie[werk] in Amsterdam whose film production house is a temporary home for Victory Journey essentials and who has kindly donated space to us for as long as we may need it.
The Juno Beach Center in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, for various levels of support from their incredible personnel in both Canada and Normandy as well as generous use of space in their renowned facility. Alex Fitzgerald-Black, Louis Lebel and the wonderful staff at Juno Beach Center have made a notable difference to our documentary and our ability to navigate COVID changes to planning.
Kristof Jacobs and Charlotte Wagenaar, whose dedication to the remembrance of WWII Allied soldiers, especially Canadian veterans, is both deeply inspiring and formidable. This wonderful couple have been supporting WWII remembrance causes for years and are two of the most immersed people on the subject matter that we've ever met. They continue to be incredibly helpful to Victory Journey's mission from their home-base in Belgium and are not only truly two of Victory Journey's greatest champions but also WWII history's as well.
The Villa Rozenhof in Almen, NL, is not only an historic landmark for the turning of tides for worn-out but determined Allies overtaking the Germans in the final stages of the war, but is also the site where George G. Blackburn's actions would later be recognized by a Military Cross. Mas and Anita, the owners of this breathtakingly restored building which is now a luxurious bed and breakfast along the Twente Canal, generously hosted members of the Victory Journey crew not only during a reconnaissance mission in 2015, but also for two days of filming in 2020 - and compassionately so, given that the strain of COVID outbreak meant the shutting of doors to most tourists throughout the country.
Washington DC's United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for permission granted for invaluable archival footage from the 1981 International Liberators Conference and WWII's Westerbork Concentration Camp in The Netherlands.
RISKS AND CHALLENGES:
Our beloved few remaining WWII soldiers, be they family, friends or strangers to whom we will continue to owe our deepest gratitude, remain on this earth in diminishing numbers. As they leave us, so do many of our stories. Many people with WII relatives know nothing or little about how their loved ones served. In fact, increasingly fewer people have any solid knowledge of WWII history (or The Holocaust) whatsoever.
In a year where we will be challenged to personally honor WWII veterans by attending Remembrance Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in Canada and America respectively, it’s even more important to find alternative ways to continue the priceless traditions of remembrance and honor for these men and women.
Help us salute those who we now have little opportunity left to thank: please support Victory Journey's mission to tangibly echo the writings of George G. Blackburn's trilogy, and ensure that brutal but valiant Allied fighting in France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany is never forgotten.
For, in keeping with the very reason Captain George G. Blackburn wrote books about the worst of battle in, "...what may have been the most intense clash of arms on any front in World War II and written...to allow our grandchildren to relive those awful days when the fate of Europe and the course of history, as it concerns the thrust of democracy across this earth, hung in the balance," Victory Journey will create a new form of documentation for the digital age, as a medium through which we can better pass this important history down to the generations that follow.
Further details on our project at: www.victoryjourney.com
Thank you so much for reviewing our material and considering supporting our labor of love.
- George Bohm
- Kathleen Fields
- John Workman